All the Support an Officer Can Get

Justin Wilkerson

For a little girl diagnosed with hypotonia since birth, "support" can mean everything. Justin Wilkerson, sergeant with Montgomery County Sherriff's office, should know. His two-year-old daughter, Hayley, was diagnosed with hypotonia, a neuromuscular disorder that decreases muscle tone and strength, causing her to appear floppy, like a rag doll, a condition she exhibited over the first few months of her life. The disorder is treatable, with the help of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, but time, money and lots of patience are required to run the course.

Suzy Wilkerson, Justin's wife, serves as Hayley's main caregiver, but Hayley is not the only Wilkerson child who needs a watchful eye. Hayley's big brother, Hayden, is a healthy, active five-year-old who is into all the action and adventure you would expect from a boy his age. Suzy works part-time, as a music teacher, to supplement the household income. But some weeks, there just doesn't seem to be enough time and resources to go around.

"The TMPA has been a part of my life since before the kids were born," said Justin. "I became a member in 2005, early in my career, based on the recommendation of other law enforcement members, and the Association has been there for me ever since."

The first time was on April 17, 2012, when Justin shot a suspect after an inter-agency vehicle chase. The suspect died, and Justin selected TMPA attorney, Greg Cagle, to represent his case. Throughout the internal investigation and legal proceedings, leading up to a no-bill from the grand jury, Justin got to know Greg and the TMPA.

“The TMPA is always there, supporting peace officers, working on legislation to protect them and preparing them for whatever the job throws their way.”

"He not only offered the most competent and knowledgeable legal representation I could have expected, he also was there for me personally, as a friend and advisor, providing steady, calm encouragement throughout the ordeal," Justin said.

It would not be long before Justin needed the services of Greg and the TMPA again. On March 27, 2016, an armed, suicidal suspect had barricaded himself inside a shed, and Justin was part of the responding units dispatched to the scene. As the supervisor on duty, Justin took up a rifle position to support the negotiating deputy. When the suspect came out of the shed and aimed his pistol at the deputies, Justin pulled the trigger. The suspect did not survive, and again, Justin called on his friend at the TMPA to represent him. Greg and the TMPA helped secured a no-bill from the grand jury.

Since then, Justin has appeared at post-critical incident seminars at the Law Enforcement Management Institute at Sam Houston University, sharing his experience, mentoring other officers and offering input on post traumatic situation training.

"The TMPA is always there, supporting peace officers, working on legislation to protect them and preparing them for whatever the job throws their way," Justin said. "And, in the case of my family, their aid has reached well beyond the confines of the job."

Justin and his family have come to know TMPA field rep, Bryan Flatt, and TMPA rep, Ray Wilkinson, on a personal basis. Bryan and Ray have become fixtures around their home, helping to assist the family by providing money to help with medical bills and assisting with Christmas money to spread some added cheer around the holidays.

"All work-related incidents aside, the love and support the TMPA has provided my family makes me one of their biggest advocates on the force," Justin said. "There are days I get up and thank God for the support we get from the TMPA."